What’s next in the fight over same-sex marriage?

08 October 2014
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Plaintiffs, from left, Moudi Sbeity, his partner, Derek Kitchen, Kody Partridge and her wife, Laurie Wood, celebrate after a news conference in Salt Lake City on Monday, October 6. The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for legal same-sex marriages in five more states.Plaintiffs, from left, Moudi Sbeity, his partner, Derek Kitchen, Kody Partridge and her wife, Laurie Wood, celebrate after a news conference in Salt Lake City on Monday, October 6. The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for legal same-sex marriages in five more states.
Abbi Huber, left, and Talia Frolkis exit the City County Building in Madison, Wisconsin, after applying for a marriage license on October 6.Abbi Huber, left, and Talia Frolkis exit the City County Building in Madison, Wisconsin, after applying for a marriage license on October 6.
Rob MacPherson, right, and his husband, Steven Stolen, hug during a news conference at the ACLU in Indianapolis on October 6.Rob MacPherson, right, and his husband, Steven Stolen, hug during a news conference at the ACLU in Indianapolis on October 6.
Mary Bishop, second from left, and Sharon Baldwin, right, celebrate with family and friends following their wedding ceremony on the courthouse steps in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on October 6.Mary Bishop, second from left, and Sharon Baldwin, right, celebrate with family and friends following their wedding ceremony on the courthouse steps in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on October 6.
Jennifer Melsop, left, and Erika Turner kiss after they were married in front of the Arlington County Courthouse in Arlington, Virginia, on October 6.Jennifer Melsop, left, and Erika Turner kiss after they were married in front of the Arlington County Courthouse in Arlington, Virginia, on October 6.
Pastor Carol Hill from Epworth United Methodist Church speaks during a beachfront marriage equality ceremony at the Kathy Osterman Beach in Chicago, on Sunday, June 1, 2014. June 1 marked the first day that all of Illinois' 102 counties could begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.Pastor Carol Hill from Epworth United Methodist Church speaks during a beachfront marriage equality ceremony at the Kathy Osterman Beach in Chicago, on Sunday, June 1, 2014. June 1 marked the first day that all of Illinois’ 102 counties could begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
William Roletter, left, and Paul Rowe, right, press close to one another after having their photo taken with their newly acquired marriage certificate at City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 21.William Roletter, left, and Paul Rowe, right, press close to one another after having their photo taken with their newly acquired marriage certificate at City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 21.
Julie Engbloom, left, and Laurie Brown embrace after being wed in Portland, Oregon, on Monday, May 19, after a federal judge <a href='http://us.cnn.com/2014/05/19/us/oregon-same-sex-marriage/index.html'>struck down the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage</a>.Julie Engbloom, left, and Laurie Brown embrace after being wed in Portland, Oregon, on Monday, May 19, after a federal judge struck down the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
Jennifer Rambo, right, kisses her partner, Kristin Seaton, after their marriage ceremony in front of the Carroll County Courthouse in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, on Saturday, May 10. At left is Sheryl Maples, the lead attorney who filed the Wright v. State of Arkansas lawsuit. Rambo and Seaton were the first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage license in Eureka Springs after a judge overturned Amendment 83, which<a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/09/us/arkansas-same-sex-ban-overturned/?hpt=po_c2'> banned same-sex marriage in the state of Arkansas. </a>Jennifer Rambo, right, kisses her partner, Kristin Seaton, after their marriage ceremony in front of the Carroll County Courthouse in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, on Saturday, May 10. At left is Sheryl Maples, the lead attorney who filed the Wright v. State of Arkansas lawsuit. Rambo and Seaton were the first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage license in Eureka Springs after a judge overturned Amendment 83, which banned same-sex marriage in the state of Arkansas.
Same-sex couples get their marriage licenses at the Oakland County Courthouse in Pontiac, Michigan, on Saturday, March 22, a day after a federal judge overturned Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.Same-sex couples get their marriage licenses at the Oakland County Courthouse in Pontiac, Michigan, on Saturday, March 22, a day after a federal judge overturned Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Utah state Sen. Jim Dabakis, left, and Stephen Justesen acknowledge the crowd after being married in Salt Lake City on Friday, December 20. A federal judge struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it conflicted with the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Many Utah counties began issuing marriage licenses before the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court temporarily blocked enforcement of the lower court ruling until the constitutional questions are fully resolved.Utah state Sen. Jim Dabakis, left, and Stephen Justesen acknowledge the crowd after being married in Salt Lake City on Friday, December 20. A federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying it conflicted with the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Many Utah counties began issuing marriage licenses before the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court temporarily blocked enforcement of the lower court ruling until the constitutional questions are fully resolved.
Plaintiffs Laurie Wood, left, and Kody Partridge, center, and attorney Peggy Tomsic leave a federal courthouse in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, December 4, after a judge heard arguments challenging Utah's same-sex marriage ban.Plaintiffs Laurie Wood, left, and Kody Partridge, center, and attorney Peggy Tomsic leave a federal courthouse in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, December 4, after a judge heard arguments challenging Utah’s same-sex marriage ban.
Hawaiian Gov. Neil Abercrombie, left, and former Sen. Avery Chumbley celebrate with a copy of the Star-Advertiser after Abercrombie signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii on Wednesday, November 13, in Honolulu. Hawaii's same-sex marriage debate began in 1990, when two women applied for a marriage license, leading to a court battle and a 1993 state Supreme Court decision that their rights to equal protection were violated by not letting them marry. Now the state is positioning itself for an increase in tourism as visitors arrive to take advantage of the law, which took effect December 2. Hawaiian Gov. Neil Abercrombie, left, and former Sen. Avery Chumbley celebrate with a copy of the Star-Advertiser after Abercrombie signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii on Wednesday, November 13, in Honolulu. Hawaii’s same-sex marriage debate began in 1990, when two women applied for a marriage license, leading to a court battle and a 1993 state Supreme Court decision that their rights to equal protection were violated by not letting them marry. Now the state is positioning itself for an increase in tourism as visitors arrive to take advantage of the law, which took effect December 2.
Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker officiates a wedding ceremony for Joseph Panessidi and Orville Bell at City Hall on Monday, October 21. The state Supreme Court denied the state's request to prevent same-sex marriages temporarily, clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry.Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker officiates a wedding ceremony for Joseph Panessidi and Orville Bell at City Hall on Monday, October 21. The state Supreme Court denied the state’s request to prevent same-sex marriages temporarily, clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry.
A couple celebrates at San Francisco City Hall upon hearing about the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage on June 26, 2013. The high court cleared the way for same-sex couples in California to resume marrying after dismissing an appeal on Proposition 8 on jurisdictional grounds.A couple celebrates at San Francisco City Hall upon hearing about the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage on June 26, 2013. The high court cleared the way for same-sex couples in California to resume marrying after dismissing an appeal on Proposition 8 on jurisdictional grounds.
In the other June 26 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Jamous Lizotte, right, and Steven Jones pose for photos while waiting for a marriage license in Portland, Maine, in December 2012.In the other June 26 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Jamous Lizotte, right, and Steven Jones pose for photos while waiting for a marriage license in Portland, Maine, in December 2012.
At the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 14, 2013, <a href='http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/14/minnesota-governor-signs-same-sex-marriage-bill-into-law/?iref=allsearch'>Gov. Mark Dayton signs a bill legalizing same-sex marriage</a>.At the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 14, 2013, Gov. Mark Dayton signs a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell holds up legislation on May 7, 2013,<a href='http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/07/delaware-to-become-eleventh-state-to-approve-same-sex-marraige/?iref=storysearch'> allowing same-sex couples to wed in the state.</a>Delaware Gov. Jack Markell holds up legislation on May 7, 2013, allowing same-sex couples to wed in the state.
Rhode Island state Sen. Donna Nesselbush, right, embraces a supporter after the <a href='http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/02/tenth-state-set-to-make-same-sex-marriage-legal/?iref=allsearch'>Marriage Equality Act was signed into law at the statehouse in Providence</a> on May 2, 2013.Rhode Island state Sen. Donna Nesselbush, right, embraces a supporter after the Marriage Equality Act was signed into law at the statehouse in Providence on May 2, 2013.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, center, shakes hands with Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller after <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/01/us/maryland-same-sex-marriage/index.html'>signing a same-sex marriage bill on March 1, 2012</a>. The law was challenged, but voters approved marriage equality in a November 2012 referendum.Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, center, shakes hands with Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller after signing a same-sex marriage bill on March 1, 2012. The law was challenged, but voters approved marriage equality in a November 2012 referendum.
<a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/13/us/same-sex-marriage/index.html'>Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire celebrates after signing marriage equality legislation</a> into law on February 13, 2012. Voters there approved same-sex marriage in November 2012.Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire celebrates after signing marriage equality legislation into law on February 13, 2012. Voters there approved same-sex marriage in November 2012.
Phyllis Siegel, 76, right, kisses her wife, Connie Kopelov, 84, after exchanging vows at the Manhattan City Clerk's office with New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn in attendance on July 24, 2011, the <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/07/24/new.york.same.sex.marriage/index.html'>first day New York state's Marriage Equality Act went into effect</a>.Phyllis Siegel, 76, right, kisses her wife, Connie Kopelov, 84, after exchanging vows at the Manhattan City Clerk’s office with New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn in attendance on July 24, 2011, the first day New York state’s Marriage Equality Act went into effect.
In 2010, television reporter Roby Chavez, right, shares a moment with gay rights activist Frank Kameny during Chavez and Chris Roe's wedding ceremony in the nation's capital. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/03/09/same.sex.marriages/index.html'>Same-sex marriage became legal in Washington on March 9, 2010.</a>In 2010, television reporter Roby Chavez, right, shares a moment with gay rights activist Frank Kameny during Chavez and Chris Roe’s wedding ceremony in the nation’s capital. Same-sex marriage became legal in Washington on March 9, 2010.
Olin Burkhart, left, and Carl Burkhart kiss on the steps of the New Hampshire Capitol in Concord in January 2010 as the<a href='http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/01/01/new.hampshire.same.sex/index.html'> state's law allowing same-sex marriage</a> goes into effect.Olin Burkhart, left, and Carl Burkhart kiss on the steps of the New Hampshire Capitol in Concord in January 2010 as the state’s law allowing same-sex marriage goes into effect.
Maine state Sen. Dennis Damon left, hands Gov. John Baldacci the bill that the <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/06/maine.same.sex.marriage/index.html'>state Senate passed to affirm the right for same-sex couples</a> to marry on May 6, 2009. Maine state Sen. Dennis Damon left, hands Gov. John Baldacci the bill that the state Senate passed to affirm the right for same-sex couples to marry on May 6, 2009.
Beth Robinson of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, who is among those who fought for marriage equality, on April 7, 2009.Beth Robinson of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, who is among those who fought for marriage equality, on April 7, 2009.
Amy Klein-Matheny, left, and her wife, Jennifer, exchange vows in <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/03/iowa.same.sex/index.html'>Iowa after same-sex couples were allowed to marry</a> there with a court ruling on April 3.Amy Klein-Matheny, left, and her wife, Jennifer, exchange vows in Iowa after same-sex couples were allowed to marry there with a court ruling on April 3.
Michael Miller, left, and Ross Zachs marry on the West Hartford Town Hall steps after same-sex marriages became legal in Connecticut on November 12, 2008.Michael Miller, left, and Ross Zachs marry on the West Hartford Town Hall steps after same-sex marriages became legal in Connecticut on November 12, 2008.
Lara Ramsey, left, and her partner of eight years, Jane Lohmann, play with their 7-month-old son, Wyatt Ramsey-Lohmann. The two wed in 2004 after <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/05/17/mass.samesex.marriage/index.html'>Massachusetts approved same-sex marriage. </a>Massachusetts was the first state in the U.S. to do so.Lara Ramsey, left, and her partner of eight years, Jane Lohmann, play with their 7-month-old son, Wyatt Ramsey-Lohmann. The two wed in 2004 after Massachusetts approved same-sex marriage. Massachusetts was the first state in the U.S. to do so.

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(CNN) — Never has the Supreme Court said so much when saying so little.

When the justices refused to rule on gay marriage cases Monday, it directly cleared the way for the unions to become legal in five states — Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

A sixth state, Colorado, began allowing same-sex marriages Tuesday morning, with the state’s high court throwing out the last remaining legal obstacles in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

And experts believe five other states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, West Virginia, and Wyoming — will soon follow.

Ten years of same-sex marriage

Supreme Court rejects same-sex cases

Add them all up and the likely bottom line appears: Same-sex marriage will be legal in 30 states in the near future, many believe.

Those states represent more than half of the country and well over half the nation’s population. And gay couples in those states will be able to wed legally.

“Now we are in a situation where 30 states have same-sex marriage,” CNN legal analyst Jeffery Toobin said. “When you have that many people living in a world where same-sex marriage is legal, (it) makes it inevitable, it seems, that the rest of the country will follow.”

For now, though, there are 20 other states that aren’t budging.

Nearly all of them are in the Midwest and South. That’s no surprise, as these swaths of the country have traditionally been socially conservative.

Already, South Carolina’s attorney general has said he will continue fighting to keep the state’s ban in place.

So, what’s next in the gay marriage fight for those states?

Same-sex marriage advocates say they plan to work both the statehouses and the courthouses there.

Opinion: How Supreme Court’s non-decision helps gay marriage

Politics and the personal

Gay conservatives are undertaking the most coordinated effort yet to change the Republican Party’s position on same-sex marriage. Their approach: one state and one Republican activist at a time.

The official stance of the Republican Party is that “the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard,” but same-sex marriage advocates within the GOP want it removed, making the language neutral.

Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, a nonpartisan advocacy group, say the stance will soon no longer represent an evolving Republican Party, citing a New York Times public opinion poll that shows 40% of Republicans — and 56% of Republicans under age 45 — support same-sex marriage.

The GOP and gay politics

There was a joyous reaction from gay couples who immediately sought marriage licenses in Wisconsin while the conservative organization, Wisconsin Family Action, denounced the Supreme Court’s move.

“The truth is no court, by any action or inaction, can redefine marriage,” said president Julaine Appling. “Federal courts have been arrogantly ignoring this reality. That said, from a legal standpoint, the court taking a pass on these cases means the legal battle for marriage continues in our country.”

In Colorado, clerks in two counties issued same-sex marriage licenses just hours after the Supreme Court declined to hear the cases on Monday, the Denver Post reported. Michelle Alfredsen told the Post she was ecstatic about being able to marry her girlfriend Wendy.

“I’m officially Mrs. Alfredsen,” she told the newspaper. “We are basking in this moment and celebrating that our children will not have to take on this fight.”

The next day, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers ordered clerks in all 64 of the state’s counties to issue same-sex licenses to couples who request them.

“There are no remaining legal requirements that prevent same-sex couples from legally marrying in Colorado,” Suthers said.

The jurisdictional front

Advocates of gay marriage have been riding a hot streak, but how long will it last?

Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond, believes it’s likely that the winning streak may end somewhere on the appellate level.

While district judges function more independently, appeals court judges “tend to be more ideological,” Tobias notes, and thus it’s more likely they cumulatively will express opinions on both sides of the debate.

That said, whatever these appeals courts decide might be moot.

Experts say this fast-moving wave of decisions will ultimately climax where it began, on the nation’s top court — with so-called “swing” justice Anthony Kennedy most likely siding with the winner on the deeply divided court.

If you ask University of California, Berkeley, law professor Jesse Choper, there’s only one way to put the issue to rest.

“This will only authoritatively be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said.

By the numbers: Same-sex marriage

In states where marriage licenses are already being issued, there are legal complications to work out.

For instance, in Utah, state lawmaker Kraig Powell, a Republican, has started a bill to work on language in state codes governing marriage.

The chapter that addresses marriage is titled “Husband and Wife” — that has to be changed, Powell said, according to the Salt Lake Tribute.

Back to the Supremes

Toobin, too, sees circumstances where the Supreme Court might need to weigh in, because the tally of states where gay marriage is legal is actually 24, not 30.

The reality is, despite what experts believe, justices have not yet ruled — or refused to rule — on the same-sex marriage bans in those six states.

“The one thing we know for sure is that there will not be a 50-state ruling (that) same-sex marriage is required in every state in the union,” Toobin said.

“What is complicated and, frankly, somewhat mysterious, is what happens now in the states where the lower courts have said, ‘Under our interpretation of the Constitution, we believe there is a right to same-sex marriage.'”

Ultimately, that could prompt the Supreme Court to tackle this thorny issue the next time it comes around.

Will same-sex marriage become a 2014 issue?



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